We live in an era where personal identity is of great importance to us. Perhaps we simply don’t know who we are. We are like victims of amnesia who are lost and always searching for our ‘true’ identity—or perhaps we are looking for an upgrade. We seek meaningful self-definition in our jobs, our relationships, our hobbies, and (sometimes) in Jesus. Whatever the reason, we listen when someone speaks about identity.
There are a number of ways to approach the ‘Who am I’ question. A useful way is to change the question just slightly from:
Who am I? … to … Who am I?
In this, we take our cue from King David. After the Lord assured him that his throne would have longevity, David responded with a rhetorical question.
Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? (2 Sam. 7:18)
This was not a new question for David. He had asked the same question when Saul offered him his daughter in marriage (1 Sam 18:18, also see Gen 32:10). Apparently, it was a natural response for him.
Ruth lived with this question too. “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10)
You can hear echoes of it in the Apostle Paul. “Who am I that you would take me—a murderer and enemy—and make me a servant? Who am I that you would anoint me and send me to the Gentiles? Who am I that you would love me and allow me to suffer for your Name?” When you read through his epistles, you suspect that Paul could go on like this for hours.
Behind the question is an identity. I was dead in sins, I have received grace and mercy, I have been brought from the trash heap to the King’s table and now I—a person who was far away—have been brought near and he says to me that I am his and he is mine.
Who am I? I am unworthy to have received anything from the Lord let alone received everything from him.
Who am I? I will never even be asked to give commensurate with what I have been given.
How pleasant. An identity forged in simple gratitude. Whatever else we add to our thoughts on biblical identity, this is the foundation for them all.
Who am I, O Sovereign Lord that you have brought me this far?